The week in science: Space station rendezvous, a WISE-eyed beauty and bullets of sound


  • Space shuttle Discovery docked at the International Space Station early Wednesday, after a rare antenna breakdown that knocked out radar tracking. Today, a pair of astronauts completed a spacewalk to disconnect an old, empty ammonia tank outside the station, and they prepared a new one to replace it. [Star-News]

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Women in space: Two astronauts have ties to Pasadena area

There are a record-setting four women currently in space — two of them with ties to the Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley area — and we wanted to know more about these trailblazing astronauts.

As the Associated Press reported, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a native of Arcadia, was aboard a Russian rocket last week when it blasted off with two Russian cosmonauts en route to the International Space Station.

And Stephanie D. Wilson, formerly of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Caada Flintridge, was aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery as it launched on Monday.

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A sky-high bonus for BCS fans — and anyone who cares to look up



A fun tip from the Twitter feed run by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: The International Space Station will make a visible pass from 5:23 p.m. to 5:28 p.m. tonight, heading from southwest to northeast.

It’s just a stellar “added bonus for those attending tonite’s BCS game.”

If you can stand to look away from the early action on the field, definitely glance toward the sky during those five minutes for some extra excitement.

How will you know what to look for? Here are some guidelines from the Hayden Planetarium in New York:

“Because of its size and configuration of highly reflective solar
panels, the space station is now, by far, the brightest man-made object
currently in orbit around the Earth. On favorable passes, it can appear
as bright as the planet Venus …”

While the ISS looks like a moving star to the unaided eye, those who
have been able to train a telescope on it have actually been able to
detect its T-shape as it has whizzed across their field of view. Some
have actually been able to track the ISS with their scope by moving it
along the projected path. Those who have gotten a good glimpse describe
the body of the Space Station as a brilliant white, while the solar
panels appear a coppery red.
For evening passes, the ISS will usually start out rather dim and then
tend to grow in brightness as it moves across the sky.”

Want to know when other spacecraft will be flying overhead? There’s an app(let) for that.

(Getty Images)